While normally the privacy of the friends and family of the famous should be as sacrosanct as our own, said friends and family may take actions that strip away their immunity. Willingly appearing on television, for example, constitutes a step toward becoming famous oneself, and of course once one is voluntarily famous -- I am here excluding unfortunates like Richard Jewel who had infamy thrust upon them -- one's privacy soon becomes a distant memory.
The standard lately applied to those in the president's private life appears to be that while the First Lady is a fair target, children should be left alone. On its face, it is a somewhat arbitrary standard; technically, aren't children a more accurate reflection of the parents than the spouse is? In practice, however, the wives of presidential candidates become diligent campaigners themselves, thus willingly putting themselves in the glare of the searchlight on their husbands and volunteering for some degree of scrutiny and criticism.
WWJD (What Would Jenna Drink?) jokes notwithstanding, with regard to the current First Family, this rule appears to have been followed by most journalists with pretensions to seriousness. Jenna and Barbara Bush have been permitted to enjoy their college years in relative peace, and as far as I know, have not been pestered by reporters who want to know their opinions on Dad's missing WMDs.
But that may change this year, despite the pleas of White House spokesman Scott McClellan. The Reuters lede captures it perfectly: "The White House asked the media on Monday to 'show respect" for President Bush's twin daughters as they emerge from private life as students to work for their father's re-election campaign.'
"Emerge from private life"; that phrase accurately encapsulates why the press may be tempted to alter their treatment of the Misses Bush. In working for their father's re-election campaign -- presumably in front of crowds, and not just blowing up festive balloons -- they are volunteering to become more public people than they were as students. Therefore, one might logically apply a different standard.
After all, to create family rifts by trying to get a quote from a Bush daughter that would dissent from Administration policy while she was essentially a private citizen would be extremely tacky. Exposing ideological rifts within campaigns, on the other hand, strikes me as within the bounds of polite journalism. I don't know how closely Al Gore's children hewed to his policy line, but during their public appearances on his behalf in 2000, it certainly would have been legitimate to query them about it. People who volunteer for campaigns should not do so lightly, even if the candidate in question is a parent.